like Hungerford above, led to West Midlands Police's firearms
West Midlands police revealed for the first time in December that
they were holding an armoury of more than 300 firearms, including
pump-action shotguns and sniper rifles.
Disclosing details of the armoury, top officers gave out the message:
"We have nothing to hide and the public has the right to know."
The weapons being held by the force also included CS gas launchers,
self-loading pistols, carbines and revolvers.
The disclosures came after armed police activities came under
scrutiny following incidents like that year's Hungerford killings
and the shooting of armed men in Somerset and London.
The chief inspector in charge of the firearms operations unit
for the region, Michael Harrison, said the force had changed its
procedures for selecting officers for the tactical firearms unit.
They were now given psychological tests.
"We look at their whole state of mind, and domestic background
to ensure we have the best possible men for this very stressful
job," said Mr Harrison.
Not such a charmed life! Wolverhampton snake dancer, Tina
Marie Jarvis, was considering getting a second opinion over the
sudden deaths of her performing snakes.
The Indian pythons - Cyril and Tracey - were found dead at the home
of the exotic disco dancer in December.
Post-mortem examinations by a vet revealed that Cyril died from
septicaemia and Tracey from pneumonia.
Pictured: Tina Marie Jarvis, right, with Paula Talbot and friends
The vet said that further tests were being carried out to determine
the strain of the virus which hit the snakes.
The 19-year-old exotic dancer's mother, Mrs Jean Jarvis, of Oakley
Grove, Penn, Wolverhampton, said they could not understand why the
snakes died at the same time. "We are thinking about getting a second
opinion," she added.
One out, all out . . . Austin Rover workers at Longbridge
called off a wildcat strike in March, the day after walking out in
support of punk rocker, Darren Kelly (pictured below).
industrial action by the 180 workers cost the Birmingham plant 2
million after Mr Kelly, a trimfitter, was sacked for persistent
Following a mass meeting the workers agreed to return to work.
But union officials stressed that the dispute was still not over.
They were putting Mr Kelly's case before national union officials.
Mr Kelly, who had a bright green "Mohican" style haircut, claimed
he had been victimised because of his appearance.
"Looking like this, I suppose I am more easily missed from the
production line," he said. But Austin Rover said Mr Kelly had been
absent from 51 shifts since April the previous year and was unable
to give, any explanation for 31 of them.
The dispute lost Austin Rover production of about 300 Rover 200
cars, worth more than 2 million at showroom prices.
Hopping mad over those red frogs: A wildlife group was hopping
mad in March after claiming that frogs at a Black Country park were
being turned red by council weedkiller.
The Urban Wildlife Group, said that paraquat sprayed by Sandwell
Council at the Sheepwash Urban Park, Great Bridge, had affected
the skin pigment of the frogs and turned them red.
But the council said they did not think the deadly herbicide was
responsible for the change. Council chiefs pointed out that at the
time the weedkiller had been applied, the frogs would have been
The site was a former tip and it was felt that things dumped there
over the years had changed the colour of the frogs.
The party's over . . . Late- night boozing sessions at a Walsall
allotments sparked off a call for "last orders" by angry council chiefs
Gardeners were staging wild revels at the Delves Green Road site
- and their antics were having a sobering effect on residents in
They complained of noise, drunken brawls, and said gardeners were
relieving themselves on their once-proud plots. So council recreation
chiefs made it plain to the revellers that the partying was over.
Site agent, Bill Cooper, said the trouble was the work of a spirited
group of gardeners who were more interested in pale ale than parsnips.
"They go down there to get away from their wives," he said. "I
can't blame the people nearby for complaining."
And residents saidy all the boozing has not helped the gardeners
shed-building skills. They described the allotments as "shanty towns"
and council staff threatened to pull down the plot-holders' shacks.